SAN FRANCISCO (06/15/2000) - No matter how large hard drives get, we still can't do away completely with removable storage. But once you've archived or backed up your important files to a Zip or rewritable compact disc, can you find them again?
1Vision Software Inc. is offering two programs that can help. The first, 1Disk, tracks what files are on what disks for easy retrieval. The second, 1Safe, is a backup program that keeps your different versions of a file where you can easily get to them.
Both programs must run in the background all the time, which seems to create performance and stability problems. And unless you use a lot of removable media and tend to misplace files, the benefits of 1Disk and 1Safe are probably not worth the potential problems.
Where'd I Put That File?
1Disk keeps track of what files you put on what media. Put a new disk into your CD-RW, Zip, or floppy drive, and 1Disk will note it. Move a file to that disk, and 1Disk will note that as well. 1Disk keeps a database of what files you've put on each disk, then makes Windows see this database as just another drive.
Open that virtual drive, and you'll see a virtual folder for each real disk.
Select a file from one of these folders, and a dialog box will tell you what disk to put into what drive.
An obvious use for such a program, of course, is searching for one particular file. Since Windows sees the database as a folder, you can use any file search program, including Windows' own File Finder. But since the files themselves aren't readily available, the program doesn't handle content searches. If you don't know at least an approximation of the file name or date, a search won't do you much good.
Nor will you get much help if you use a compression program like WinZip. 1Disk will see your .zip file names, but not the names of the files they contain.
According to 1Vision Chief Excecutive Dave Howard, .zip file support is "a to-do list item."
1Disk has been around since 1998. This month's release of Version 3.1 added Windows 2000 support and the ability to print your file and folder lists, something that Windows Explorer still doesn't offer. The program also makes it easier for you to control which drives it monitors.
Utility Backs Up to Anything
1Vision also is releasing a new backup program this week called 1Safe. Like 1Disk, 1Safe stores its backups on any medium with a drive letter, and uses a similar database-as-drive to help you access your backups.
Want a version of a file from last Wednesday? Within that virtual drive you'll find a folder containing nothing but multiple versions of that particular file, where you can pick the one you want by date.
Double-click on the file, and 1Safe will tell you which volume to put into the drive, then open the file.
Yes, I said "open the file." You don't have to restore it first as with most backup programs.
Unlike 1Disk, 1Safe works with tape drives. It does this by making Windows see them as disk drives, albeit disk drives with excruciatingly slow access times.
Among the tape drives 1Safe supports are the HP Colorado 20GB, the Seagate STT20000A, and the Tecmar Travan NS8 (1Vision hopes to have a complete list on their Web site soon). Among the drives it doesn't support is my old Iomega Ditto drive.
For that reason, I used an external Zip disk drive to test 1Safe. But the Final code version at first refused to work with the Zip drive. A call to 1Vision fixed the problem; a default setting didn't work and had to be changed.
In 1Safe, you can schedule automatic backups at intervals from one minute to one month. But I wouldn't recommend one minute. I tried it, and I got pretty annoyed at the box that kept popping up telling me that I was backing up.
Worse, when I tried to change this setting, I found that 1Safe had become extremely unstable, locking up with frightening regularity. All in all, not behavior I'd want in a program intended to be running in the background at all times.
1Disk is available for US$39.95 from 1Vision's Web site; 1Safe costs $69. Both programs will also be available, probably for less money, through retail channels.